Resume length can be a tricky requirement to figure out. You hop on Google and search the blogs of recruiting experts, you ask your local recruiting offices, you may even ask hiring managers, and they all give you a different opinion. One of the most common, long held assumptions is that a resume should only be one page in length, but that is an absurd rule that should have been thrown on the trash heap of bad advice. The truth is that the length of your resume is dependent on your experience – no more, no less – and that is the rule you should live by when writing your resume for prospective employers.
One Page Resume
For ages, recruiters have been telling job seekers that they should reduce their work experience into a one-page career summary – regardless of how much experience the candidate possesses. This is flat out wrong. Certainly, it might be good advice for a brand-new job seeker, or a career professional who has only worked for a single employer over a five to ten-year period, but the possible application of this rule stops there. A one-page resume does not convey to employers the breadth and depth of experience a mid-level to senior candidate possesses who have a storied work history with multiple companies – especially if that candidate has been a contractor the bulk of their career. Thus, we don’t advise any candidate to submit a one-page resume when it comes to applying to open positions with prospective employers. Instead we advise the tried-and-true two-pager.
Two Page Resume
A two-page resume is by far the best choice for a career-oriented professional wanting to effectively communicate their skillset to any company looking to higher. In fact, a recent study has found that most recruiters prefer a two page resume and the reason is simple: two pages provides you with enough space to effectively communicate your skills, experience and accomplishments. As such, this is the gold standard when it comes to writing your resume. Companies want to know how you achieved results from current and past employers. They want to know how you ascended in your career and communicating the path you took to get there can’t successfully be done in a simple one-pager. That’s why we recommend the two-page resume approach. Mid-level to managerial career professionals should always shoot for two when it comes to impressing employers into calling for an interview.
More than Two Pages
Now, there is an exception to the two-page resume rule: contractors. If you are a contractor, a two-page resume may not be enough for you to demonstrate your experience – especially since contracts can term at any moment, and since it is common that some contractors don’t always work the full-length of a contractual agreement from start to finish. If this is the case for you, then it’s okay for you to expand your resume into three pages (or possibly even four pages).
However, we should provide a word of caution: you need to be careful not to look like a job hopper. Resumes that have a varied history of short-term assignments do not always bode well with prospective employers. If you are a contractor looking for a more permanently role, you need to be upfront right from the start about your career on your resume to explain short term assignments or gaps. Cover letters are a great way to present this information, and you should also state that you are a contractor in career summary. That way, you provide a prospective employer proper insight into why you might have a listing of career positions that only last one or two years. After all, the more upfront you are about your career history, the better your chances of scoring an interview with an interested employer.